John Pilger's Utopia coming to Australia

Monday, January 6, 2014

One of the most extraordinary films about Australia is soon to be screed across Australia. This is Utopia, an epic production by the Emmy and Bafta winning film-maker and journalist John Pilger.

Utopia is a vast region in northern Australia and home to the oldest human presence on earth. "This film is a journey into that secret country," says Pilger in Utopia. "It will describe not only the uniqueness of the first Australians, but their trail of tears and betrayal and resistance - from one utopia to another".

Pilger begins his journey in Sydney, where he grew up, and in Canberra, the nation's capital, where the national parliament rises in an affluent suburb called Barton, recently awarded the title of Australia's most advantaged community.

Barton is named after Edmund Barton, the first prime minister of Australia, who in 1901 introduced the White Australia Policy. "The doctrine of the equality of man," said Barton, "was never intended to apply to those who weren't British and white-skinned."

He made no mention of the original inhabitants who were deemed barely human, unworthy of recognition in the first suburban utopia.

One of the world's best kept secrets is revealed against a background of the greatest boom in mineral wealth. Has the "lucky country" inherited South African apartheid? And how could this happen in the 21st century? What role has the media played?

Utopia is both a personal journey and universal story of power and resistance and how modern societies can be divided between those who conform and a dystopian world of those who do not conform.

The film draws on people and places Pilger first filmed 28 years ago during his long association with the Indigenous people of his homeland. The evidence he produces is often deeply moving and shocking.

You can read an "inside story" of the filming of Utopia by Tracker Magazine's Chris Graham, who worked as an associate producer on the film.

The film trailer and a message from John Pilger are below. Visit the film's website for more details and reviews.

All screening details are here.

On Friday, January 17, there will be free open-air screening at the Block in Redfern, Sydney, starting at 7pm on the corner of Eveleigh & Caroline streets. Bring a picnic & blanket or chairs. For more information contact paddy.gibson@gmail.com

Utopia will be launched in Australia at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, with screenings from 21-23 January and on Australia Day, 26 January. For information visit mca.com.au

On 25 January, Utopia will be screened in Alice Springs at the Aaraluen Arts Centre. Contact Marlene Hodder on mhodder@rocketmail.com

For more information about the film, including stills and press screeners please contact alex.rowley@ar-pr.co.uk and lauren.papendorf@ar-pr.co.uk

From GLW issue 993